Bay Area Beats | KALW

Bay Area Beats

Davis Le

Cindy Emch is the queer country lead singer for The Secret Emchy Society. You can dance to her music or enjoy it in a low tempo mood. Cindy knows how to reach people when they're at the bars (metaphorically speaking), lonely, or in love. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Cindy shares the band's history and its connection to the Bay Area.

The Seshen is a band that’s a family of friends. Over the past decade, they've grown up together, dedicated to music with purpose. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, they share the influences behind their latest album, Cyan.

Shelter-in-place caused many artists to postpone or cancel live concert events, but that didn’t stop Freddie from releasing new material or performing online. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, the Oakland-based R&B singer talks about how releasing their debut album Melanin Monroe helped them express what it means to be black and genderfluid.

Sarchasm is a Berkeley-based band that’s been together for a decade. They’ve used their music to work through challenges, spread political messages, and support each other.

Courtesy of Cecilia Pena-Govea

Cecilia Peña-Govea is La Doña. She is a Chicana artist whose music explores themes of romance, feminism, and identity. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, La Doña talks about finding her sound in San Francisco’s diverse Latinx communities.

Courtesy of Kev Choice

Pianist, composer, and MC Kev Choice represents Oakland hard. He started learning the piano in seventh grade at Westlake Junior High near Lake Merritt and recently composed a piece for the Oakland Symphony. Though he’s done stints in Illinois, New Orleans, and Atlanta, he considers the Town his artistic and spiritual home.

San Francisco-based singer-songwriter Anna Hillburg has played in countless bands over the past 20 years. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Anna shares how her experiences in the city contributed influenced her latest album, "Really Real."

Keeping 80s Boogie Alive With The Pendletons

Mar 31, 2020
Courtesy of The Pendletons


The Pendletons are a boogie-funk and modern soul project made up of E Da Boss and Trailer Limon. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, The Pendletons share with us their musical influences including San Francisco’s funk DJ scene.

Elizabeth Michelini Franco, styled by Vania Michelini Castillo

Rooted in Mexican oral tradition, Chhoti Maa raps, sings, and writes about migration, queerness, and indigenous spirituality. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, the Oakland based artist talks about her latest album, "Caldo de Hueso," meaning bone broth.

Courtesy of Carina Ho

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, we hear from Oakland musician Carina Ho. Carina studied ballet and played in bands for most of her life but never considered a serious career in the arts. A traumatic accident in 2014 changed that and set her on a brand new path. 

Courtesy of Freddie Hughes

When you walk into the dimly lit Royal Cuckoo Organ Lounge on Mission Street, you might hear the familiar voice of a man serenading the dive bar’s mostly millennial crowd. It’s soul singer Freddie Hughes, a veteran of the Bay Area music scene for more than six decades and the vocalist on several hit records from the 1960s. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Freddie shares his story. 

Courtesy of Carly Bond

Carly Bond is a songwriter and guitar player. Her band, Meernaa, released their first full-length record this summer titled Heart Hunger. She began writing songs for it after she discovered a family secret. Through processing her family’s history, she’s crafted a synth-driven, dreamy landscape.

Bo Walsh / KALW

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, original band member David Bustamante tells the story of Dakila's return to the stage after 40 years.

Zakiya Harris On Music, Motherhood, And Moving On

Jul 31, 2019

Oakland singer-songwriter Zakiya Harris performs under the name Sh8peshifter. She came to that name and her musical career when her personal and professional life fell apart.

Courtesy of Enon Gaines

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Enon talks about the rush and raw energy in combining hip-hop and punk.

Steve Drown / Uncuffed

From the series Uncuffed:

Throughout his troubled life, the guitar has been Joseph Kaufman’s constant companion. When he landed in prison, he discovered what he needed to change was with him the entire time.

Tony Lindsay

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Supernatural- Santana’s wildly successful, Grammy-winning 1999 album, which has become one of the best-selling albums of all-time.  One of the singers on that album was Tony Lindsay, Santana’s lead vocalist from the early ’90s to 2015. In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Tony shares what it means to be a part of the Santana legacy and why he doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon.

Rehabilitation through music for imprisoned pianist

Jun 24, 2019
Steve Drown

From the series Uncuffed:

Maimon Pony’s career as a pianist was cut short by drug addiction. In Solano State Prison, he keeps practicing and waits for his release.

Courtesy Lydia Pense


Lydia Pense is the lead singer of the San Francisco soul band Cold Blood. They were one of the first acts signed to legendary San Francisco promoter Bill Graham's “Fillmore  Records." In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Pense sat down to share some stories from her long and illustrious career.

Jenee Darden / KALW

In this edition of Bay Area Beats Brittany Tanner, Felicia Gangloff-Bailey, Lauren Adams, and, Karega Bailey of SOL (Source of Light) Development explain using their music as a form of activism and healing.

Porfirio Rangel

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, Alexi Rose Belchere and Devin Nelson from the Y Axes talk about using science fiction to express emotional concepts and how San Francisco ties into their music.

Ty Tha Artist

This Friday, filmmaker Jordan Peele’s highly anticipated new horror movie “Us” is being released in theatres. The film’s trailer has gotten a lot of attention, especially here in the Bay Area for featuring the song “I Got 5 on It,” which was a hit in the mid-90s for the Oakland rap group The Luniz.

Courtesy of Lisa Forkish

This weekend, a capella music lovers will be gathering in Berkeley for the WeSing Vocal Festival. The three-day event was started by Oakland singer Lisa Forkish who got involved in the a capella music scene during her college years. Her group at that time was the inspiration for the hit film “Pitch Perfect.”

Anthony Pullen / Courtesy of Ruby Mountain

Ruby Mountain is an eclectic singer-songwriter and producer from Oakland. She grew up performing traditional Afghan songs with her father while also experiencing all of the Soul, R&B and Hip Hop that the Bay Area had to offer. 

Gabe Grabin / KALW

If Freddie Mercury & David Bowie had a star child her name would be Kat Robichaud. She is an over-the-top, theatrical rocker whose career got a boost when she participated on the TV hit “The Voice.”

Courtesy of Tommy Guerrero

San Francisco’s Tommy Guerrero started his career as a professional skateboarder in the 1980s as a member of the legendary Bones Brigade Crew. They were made up of mostly teenagers who introduced a new generation to skateboarding through their recorded highlight videos. It was during those years touring the world that Tommy also pursued his other passion — music.

'Harpist from the Hood' follows path of musical Destiny

Feb 14, 2019
Courtesty of Destiny Muhammad

When she was a child, Stephanie Louis developed a strong connection to the harp after watching a performance on I Love Lucy. But it took decades for her to change her career, city, and even her name to fulfill her passion: music. Today, audiences know her as Destiny Muhammad, the 'Harpist from the Hood'.

Bay Area Beats: Jamie Zee

Feb 12, 2019
Courtesy of Jamie Zee

While studying classical voice at San Francisco's public arts high-school, Jamie Zee felt drawn to jazz music. The genre’s non conformist ethos seemed to mirror Zee’s experience as a half white, half Chinese, bisexual and non binary person.

Bay Area Beats: Kim Nalley

Jan 24, 2019
Scott Chernis

In this edition of Bay Area Beats, San Francisco singer Kim Nalley explains how balancing singing with being a historian and Ph.D student has helped her pay tribute to the legends of jazz that have come before her.

Bay Area Beats: Karl Digerness & Minna Choi

Nov 13, 2018
Courtesy of Karl Digerness

Songwriting can be a challenge. So when San Francisco musician Karl Digerness found himself battling writer’s block he started reading the texts from plays written by William Shakespeare for some lyrical inspiration.